Reenacting Redemption

One of the common mistakes associated with Reconstruction is the tendency of some people to equate the Ku Klux Klan with all white supremacist terrorist organizations (or all white supremacist terrorism, for that matter).  Thus, the common textbook story is the KKK collapsed in the early 1870s.  Some people like to think that Nathan Bedford Forrest had something to do with it (although at times it seems these are the same people who claim Forrest had nothing to do with the KKK, so go figure); others cite the federal intervention in the South in the wake of the passage of the KKK Act of 1871, although the most vigorous use of that legislation was in the South Carolina upcountry, and the assertion that President Ulysses S. Grant broke the back of the KKK is both exaggerated and misleading.

Simply put, the KKK gave way to other paramilitary organizations determined to battle Republican control of the southern states through violence and intimidation (what we would call political terrorism, apologists for these groups notwithstanding).  In South Carolina, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wade Hampton was instrumental in the formation of one such group, called the Red Shirts.

Well, apparently, you can be a Red Shirt too.  The South Carolina League of the South has deployed a group operating under this name to defend displays of Confederate heritage: among those folks operating with them is none other that Kevin Levin’s favorite South Carolinian, H. K. Edgerton.

For all you defenders of Confederate heritage … or is that Reconstruction paramilitary heritage (there were no Red Shirts during the Civil War, after all) … or for those folks who just want to have a good time pretending to dress up as one of Hampton’s Red Shirts, here’s the application form.